When the reformed religion began to diffuse the Gospel light throughout
Europe, Pope Innocent III entertained great fear for the Romish
Church. He accordingly instituted a number of inquisitors, or
persons who were to make inquiry after, apprehend, and punish,
heretics, as the reformed were called by the papists.
At the head of these inquisitors was one Dominic, who had been
canonized by the pope, in order to render his authority the more
respectable. Dominic, and the other inquisitors, spread themselves
into various Roman Catholic countries, and treated the Protestants
with the utmost severity. In process of time, the pope, not finding
these roving inquisitors so useful as he had imagined, resolved
upon the establishment of fixed and regular courts of Inquisition.
After the order for these regular courts, the first office of
Inquisition was established in the city of Toulouse, and Dominic
became the first regular inquisitor, as he had before been the
first roving inquisitor.
Courts of Inquisition were now erected in several countries; but
the Spanish Inquisition became the most powerful, and the most
dreaded of any. Even the kings of Spain themselves, though arbitrary
in all other respects, were taught to dread the power of the lords
of the Inquisition; and the horrid cruelties they exercised compelled
multitudes, who differed in opinion from the Roman Catholics,
carefully to conceal their sentiments.
The most zealous of all the popish monks, and those who most implicitly
obeyed the Church of Rome, were the Dominicans and Franciscans:
these, therefore, the pope thought proper to invest with an exclusive
right of presiding over the different courts of Inquisition, and
gave them the most unlimited powers, as judges delegated by him,
and immediately representing his person: they were permitted to
excommunicate, or sentence to death whom they thought proper,
upon the most slight information of heresy. They were allowed
to publish crusades against all whom they deemed heretics, and
enter into leagues with sovereign princes, to join their crusades
with their forces.
In 1244, their power was further increased by the emperor Frederic
II, who declared himself the protector and friend of all the inquisitors,
and published the cruel edicts, viz., 1. That all heretics who
continue obstinate, should be burnt. 2. That all heretics who
repented, should be imprisoned for life.
This zeal in the emperor, for the inquisitors of the Roman Catholic
persuasion, arose from a report which had been propagated throughout
Europe, that he intended to renounce Christianity, and turn Mahometan;
the emperor therefore, attempted, by the height of bigotry, to
contradict the report, and to show his attachment to popery by
The officers of the Inquisition are three inquisitors, or judges,
a fiscal proctor, two secretaries, a magistrate, a messenger,
a receiver, a jailer, an agent of confiscated possessions; several
assessors, counsellors, executioners, physicians, surgeons, doorkeepers,
familiars, and visitors, who are sworn to secrecy.
The principal accusation against those who are subject to this
tribunal is heresy, which comprises all that is spoken, or written,
against any of the articles of the creed, or the traditions of
the Roman Church. The inquisition likewise takes cognizance of
such as are accused of being magicians, and of such who read the
Bible in the common language, the Talmud of the Jews, or the Alcoran
of the Mahometans.
Upon all occasions the inquisitors carry on their processes with
the utmost severity, and punish those who offend them with the
most unparalleled cruelty. A Protestant has seldom any mercy shown
him, and a Jew, who turns Christian, is far from being secure.
A defence in the Inquisition is of little use to the prisoner,
for a suspicion only is deemed sufficient cause of condemnation,
and the greater his wealth the greater his danger. The principal
part of the inquisitors' cruelties is owing to their rapacity:
they destroy the life to possess the property; and, under the
pretence of zeal, plunder each obnoxious individual.
A prisoner in the Inquisition is never allowed to see the face
of his accuser, or of the witnesses against him, but every method
is taken by threats and tortures, to oblige him to accuse himself,
and by that means corroborate their evidence. If the jurisdiction
of the Inquisition is not fully allowed, vengeance is denounced
against such as call it in question for if any of its officers
are opposed, those who oppose them are almost certain to be sufferers
for the temerity; the maxim of the Inquisition being to strike
terror, and awe those who are the objects of its power into obedience.
High birth, distinguished rank, great dignity, or eminent employments,
are no protection from its severities; and the lowest officers
of the Inquisition can make the highest characters tremble.
When the person impeached is condemned, he is either severely
whipped, violently tortured, sent to the galleys, or sentenced
to death; and in either case the effects are confiscated. After
judgment, a procession is performed to the place of execution,
which ceremony is called an auto da fe, or act of faith.
The following is an account of an auto da fe, performed at
Madrid in the year 1682.
The officers of the Inquisition, preceded by trumpets, kettledrums,
and their banner, marched on the thirtieth of May, in cavalcade,
to the palace of the great square, where they declared by proclamation,
that, on the thirtieth of June, the sentence of the prisoners
would be put in execution.
Of these prisoners, twenty men and women, with one renegade Mahometan,
were ordered to be burned; fifty Jews and Jewesses, having never
before been imprisoned, and repenting of their crimes, were sentenced
to a long confinement, and to wear a yellow cap. The whole court
of Spain was present on this occasion. The grand inquisitor's
chair was placed in a sort of tribunal far above that of the king.
Among those who were to suffer, was a young Jewess of exquisite
beauty, and but seventeen years of age. Being on the same side
of the scaffold where the queen was seated, she addressed her,
in hopes of obtaining a pardon, in the following pathetic speech:
"Great queen, will not your royal presence be of some service
to me in my miserable condition? Have regard to my youth; and,
oh! consider, that I am about to die for professing a religion
imbibed from my earliest infancy!" Her majesty seemed greatly
to pity her distress, but turned away her eyes, as she did not
dare to speak a word in behalf of a person who had been declared
Now Mass began, in the midst of which the priest came from the
altar, placed himself near the scaffold, and seated himself in
a chair prepared for that purpose.
The chief inquisitor then descended from the amphitheater, dressed
in his cope, and having a miter on his head. After having bowed
to the altar, he advanced towards the king's balcony, and went
up to it, attended by some of his officers, carrying a cross and
the Gospels, with a book containing the oath by which the kings
of Spain oblige themselves to protect the Catholic faith, to extirpate
heretics, and to support with all their power and force the prosecutions
and decrees of the Inquisition: a like oath was administered to
the counsellors and whole assembly. The Mass was begun about twelve
at noon, and did not end until nine in the evening, being protracted
by a proclamation of the sentence of the several criminals, which
were already separately rehearsed aloud one after the other.
After this followed the burnings of the twenty-one men and women,
whose intrepidity in suffering that horrid death was truly astonishing.
The king's near situation to the criminals rendered their dying
groans very audible to him; he could not, however, be absent from
this dreadful scene, as it is esteemed a religious one; and his
coronation oath obliged him to give a sanction by his presence
to all the acts of the tribunal.
What we have already said may be applied to inquisitions in general,
as well as to that of Spain in particular. The Inquisition belonging
to Portugal is exactly upon a similar plan to that of Spain, having
been instituted much about the same time, and put under the same
regulations. The inquisitors allow the torture to be used only
three times, but during those times it is so severely inflicted,
that the prisoner either dies under it, or continues always after
a cripple, and suffers the severest pains upon every change of
weather. We shall give an ample description of the severe torments
occasioned by the torture, from the account of one who suffered
it the three respective times, but happily survived the cruelties
At the first time of torturing, six executioners entered, stripped
him naked to his drawers, and laid him upon his back on a kind
of stand, elevated a few feet from the floor. The operation commenced
by putting an iron collar round his neck, and a ring to each foot,
which fastened him to the stand. His limbs being thus stretched
out, they wound two ropes round each thigh; which ropes being
passed under the scaffold, through holes made for that purpose,
were all drawn tight at the same instant of time, by four of the
men, on a given signal.
It is easy to conceive that the pains which immediately succeeded
were intolerable; the ropes, which were of a small size, cut through
the prisoner's flesh to the bone, making the blood to gush out
at eight different places thus bound at a time. As the prisoner
persisted in not making any confession of what the inquisitors
required, the ropes were drawn in this manner four times successively.
The manner of inflicting the second torture was as follows: they
forced his arms backwards so that the palms of his hands were
turned outward behind him; when, by means of a rope that fastened
them together at the wrists, and which was turned by an engine,
they drew them by degrees nearer each other, in such a manner
that the back of each hand touched, and stood exactly parallel
to each other. In consequence of this violent contortion, both
his shoulders became dislocated, and a considerable quantity of
blood issued from his mouth. This torture was repeated thrice;
after which he was again taken to the dungeon, and the surgeon
set the dislocated bones.
Two months after the second torture, the prisoner being a little
recovered, was again ordered to the torture room, and there, for
the last time, made to undergo another kind of punishment, which
was inflicted twice without any intermission. The executioners
fastened a thick iron chain round his body, which crossing at
the breast, terminated at the wrists. They then placed him with
his back against a thick board, at each extremity whereof was
a pulley, through which there ran a rope that caught the end of
the chain at his wrists. The executioner then, stretching the
end of his rope by means of a roller, placed at a distance behind
him, pressed or bruised his stomach in proportion as the ends
of the chains were drawn tighter. They tortured him in this manner
to such a degree, that his wrists, as well as his shoulders, were
quite dislocated. They were, however, soon set by the surgeons;
but the barbarians, not yet satisfied with this species of cruelty,
made him immediately undergo the like torture a second time, which
he sustained (though, if possible, attended with keener pains,)
with equal constancy and resolution. After this, he was again
remanded to the dungeon, attended by the surgeon to dress his
bruises and adjust the part dislocated, and here he continued
until their auto da fe, or jail delivery, when he was discharged,
crippled and diseased for life.
An Account of the Cruel Handling and Burning of Nicholas Burton,
an English Merchant, in Spain
The fifth day of November, about the year of our Lord 1560, Mr.
Nicholas Burton, citizen sometime of London, and merchant, dwelling
in the parish of Little St. Bartholomew, peaceably and quietly,
following his traffic in the trade of merchandise, and being in
the city of Cadiz, in the party of Andalusia, in Spain, there
came into his lodging a Judas, or, as they term them, a familiar
of the fathers of Inquisition; who asking for the said Nicholas
Burton, feigned that he had a letter to deliver into his own hands;
by which means he spake with him immediately. And having no letter
to deliver to him, then the said promoter, or familiar, at the
motion of the devil his master, whose messenger he was, invented
another lie, and said he would take lading for London in such
ships as the said Nicholas Burton had freighted to lade, if he
would let any; which was partly to know where he loaded his goods,
that they might attach them, and chiefly to protract the time
until the sergeant of the Inquisition might come and apprehend
the body of the said Nicholas Burton; which they did incontinently.
He then well perceiving that they were not able to burden or charge
him that he had written, spoken, or done any thing there in that
country against the ecclesiastical or temporal laws of the same
realm, boldly asked them what they had to lay to his charge that
they did so arrest him, and bade them to declare the cause, and
he would answer them. Notwithstanding they answered nothing, but
commanded him with threatening words to hold his peace, and not
speak one word to them.
And so they carried him to the filthy common prison of the town
of Cadiz where he remained in irons fourteen days amongst thieves.
All which time he so instructed the poor prisoners in the Word
of God, according to the good talent which God had given him in
that behalf, and also in the Spanish tongue to utter the same,
that in that short space he had well reclaimed several of those
superstitiuous and ignorant Spaniards to embrace the Word of God,
and to reject their popish traditions.
Which being known unto the officers of the Inquisition, they conveyed
him laden with irons from thence to a city called Seville, into
a more cruel and straiter prison called Triana, where the said
fathers of the Inquisition proceeded against him secretly according
to their accustomable cruel tyranny, that never after he could
be suffered to write or speak to any of his nation: so that to
this day it is unknown who was his accuser.
Afterward, the twentieth of December, they brought the said Nicholas
Burton, with a great number of other prisoners, for professing
the true Christian religion, into the city of Seville, to a place
where the said inquisitors sat in judgment which they called auto,
with a canvas coat, whereupon in divers parts was painted the
figure of a huge devil, tormenting a soul in a flame of fire,
and on his head a copping tank of the same work.
His tongue was forced out of his mouth with a cloven stick fastened
upon it, that he should not utter his conscience and faith to
the people, and so he was set with another Englishman of Southampton,
and divers other condemned men for religion, as well Frenchmen
as Spaniards, upon a scaffold over against the said Inquisition,
where their sentences and judgments were read and pronounced against
And immediately after the said sentences given, they were carried
from there to the place of execution without the city, where they
most cruelly burned them, for whose constant faith, God is praised.
This Nicholas Burton by the way, and in the flames of fire, had
so cheerful a countenance, embracing death with all patience and
gladness, that the tormentors and enemies which stood by, said,
that the devil had his soul before he came to the fire; and therefore
they said his senses of feeling were past him.
It happened that after the arrest of Nicholas Burton aforesaid,
immediately all the goods and merchandise which he brought with
him into Spain by the way of traffic, were (according to their
common usage) seized, and taken into the sequester; among which
they also rolled up much that appertained to another English merchant,
wherewith he was credited as factor. Whereof as soon as news was
brought to the merchant as well of the imprisonment of his factor,
as of the arrest made upon his goods, he sent his attorney into
Spain, with authority from him to make claim to his goods, and
to demand them; whose name was John Fronton, citizen of Bristol.
When his attorney was landed at Seville, and had shown all his
letters and writings to the holy house, requiring them that such
goods might be delivered into his possession, answer was made
to him that he must sue by bill, and retain an advocate (but all
was doubtless to delay him,) and they forsooth of courtesy assigned
him one to frame his supplication for him, and other such bills
of petition, as he had to exhibit into their holy court, demanding
for each bill eight reals, albeit they stood him in no more stead
than if he had put up none at all. And for the space of three
or four months this fellow missed not twice a day attending every
morning and afternoon at the inquisitors' palace, suing unto them
upon his knees for his despatch, but especially to the bishop
of Tarracon, who was at that very time chief of the Inquisition
at Seville, that he of his absolute authority would command restitution
to be made thereof; but the booty was so good and great that it
was very hard to come by it again.
At length, after he had spent four whole months in suits and requests,
and also to no purpose, he received this answer from them, that
he must show better evidence, and bring more sufficient certificates
out of England for proof of this matter, than those which he had
already presented to the court. Whereupon the party forthwith
posted to London, and with all speed returned to Seville again
with more ample and large letters testimonial, and certificates,
according to their requests, and exhibited them to the court.
Notwithstanding, the inquisitors still shifted him off, excusing
themselves by lack of leisure, and for that they were occupied
in more weighty affairs, and with such answers put him off, four
At last, when the party had well nigh spent all his money, and
therefore sued the more earnestly for his despatch, they referred
the matter wholly to the bishop, of whom, when he repaired unto
him, he made answer, 'That for himself, he knew what he had to
do, howbeit he was but one man, and the determination appertained
to the other commissioners as well as unto him;' and thus by posting
and passing it from one to another, the party could obtain no
end of his suit. Yet for his importunity's sake, they were resolved
to despatch him: it was on this sort: one of the inquisitors,
called Gasco, a man very well experienced in these practices,
willed the party to resort unto him after dinner.
The fellow being glad to hear this news, and supposing that his
goods should be restored unto him, and that he was called in for
that purpose to talk with the other that was in prison to confer
with him about their accounts, rather through a little misunderstanding,
hearing the inquisitors cast out a word, that it should be needful
for him to talk with the prisoner, and being thereupon more than
half persuaded, that at length they meant good faith, did so,
and repaired thither about the evening. Immediately upon his coming,
the jailer was forthwith charged with him, to shut him up close
in such a prison where they appointed him.
The party, hoping at the first that he had been called for about
some other matter, and seeing himself, contrary to his expectation,
cast into a dark dungeon, perceived at length that the world went
with him far otherwise than he supposed it would have done.
But within two or three days after, he was brought into the court,
where he began to demand his goods: and because it was a device
that well served their turn without any more circumstance, they
bid him say his Ave Maria: Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum,
benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui
The same was written word by word as he spake it, and without
any more talk of claiming his goods, because it was needless,
they commanded him to prison again, and entered an action against
him as a heretic, forasmuch as he did not say his Ave Maria after
the Romish fashion, but ended it very suspiciously, for he should
have added moreover; Sancta Maria mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus:
by abbreviating whereof, it was evident enough (said they) that
he did not allow the mediation of saints.
Thus they picked a quarrel to detain him in prison a longer season,
and afterward brought him forth upon their stage disguised after
their manner; where sentence was given, that he should lose all
the goods which he sued for, though they were not his own, and
besides this, suffer a year's imprisonment.
Mark Brughes, an Englishman, master of an English ship called
the Minion, was burned in a city in Portugal.
William Hoker, a young man about the age of sixteen years, being
an Englishman, was stoned to death by certain young men in the
city of Seville, for the same righteous cause.
Some Private Enormities of the Inquisition Laid Open, by a Very Singular Occurrence
When the crown of Spain was contested for in the beginning of
the present century, by two princes, who equally pretended to
the sovereignty, France espoused the cause of one competitor,
and England of the other.
The duke of Berwick, a natural son of James II who abdicated England,
commanded the Spanish and French forces, and defeated the English
at the celebrated battle of Almanza. The army was then divided
into two parts; the one consisting of Spaniards and French, headed
by the duke of Berwick, advanced towards Catalonia; the other
body, consisting of French troops only, commanded by the duke
of Orleans, proceeded to the conquest of Arragon.
As the troops drew near to the city of Arragon, the magistrates
came to offer the keys to the duke of Orleans; but he told them
haughtily that they were rebels, and that he would not accept
the keys, for he had orders to enter the city through a breach.
He accordingly made a breach in the walls with his cannon, and
then entered the city through it, together with his whole army.
When he had made every necessary regulation here, he departed
to subdue other places, leaving a strong garrison at once to overawe
and defend, under the command of his lieutenant-general M. de
Legal. This gentleman, though brought up a Roman Catholic, was
totally free from superstition; he united great talents with great
bravery; and was the skilful officer, and accomplished gentleman.
The duke, before his departure, had ordered that heavy contributions
should be levied upon the city in the following manner:
The two last contributions to be appropriated to the maintenance
of the army.
The money levied upon the magistrates and principal inhabitants,
and upon every house, was paid as soon as demanded; but when the
persons applied to the heads of convents and monasteries, they
found that the ecclesiastics were not so willing, as other people,
to part with their cash.
Of the donatives to be raised by the clergy:
The College of Jesuits to pay - 2000 pistoles.
M. de Legal sent to the Jesuits a peremptory order to pay the
money immediately. The superior of the Jesuits returned for answer
that for the clergy to pay money for the army was against all
ecclesiastical immunities; and that he knew of no argument which
could authorize such a procedure. M. de Legal then sent four companies
of dragoons to quarter themselves in the college, with this sarcastic
message. "To convince you of the necessity of paying the
money, I have sent four substantial arguments to your college,
drawn from the system of military logic; and, therefore, hope
you will not need any further admonition to direct your conduct."
These proceedings greatly perplexed the Jesuits, who despatched
an express to court to the king's confessor, who was of their
order; but the dragoons were much more expeditious in plundering
and doing mischief, than the courier in his journey: so that the
Jesuits, seeing everything going to wreck and ruin, thought proper
to adjust the matter amicably, and paid the money before the return
of their messenger. The Augustins and Carmelites, taking warning
by what had happened to the Jesuits, prudently went and paid the
money, and by that means escaped the study of military arguments,
and of being taught logic by dragoons.
But the Dominicans, who were all familiars of, or agents dependent
on, the Inquisition, imagined that that very circumstance would
be their protection; but they were mistaken, for M. de Legal neither
feared nor respected the Inquisition. The chief of the Dominicans
sent word to the military commander that his order was poor, and
had not any money whatever to pay the donative; for, says he,
"The whole wealth of the Dominicans consists only in the
silver images of the apostles and saints, as large as life, which
are placed in our church, and which it would be sacrilege to remove."
This insinuation was meant to terrify the French commander, whom
the inquisitors imagined would not dare to be so profane as to
wish for the possession of the precious idols.
He, however, sent word that the silver images would make admirable
substitutes for money, and would be more in character in his possession,
than in that of the Dominicans themselves, "For [said he]
while you possess them in the manner you do at present, they stand
up in niches, useless and motionless, without being of the least
benefit to mankind in general, or even to yourselves; but, when
they come into my possession, they shall be useful; I will put
them in motion; for I intend to have them coined, when they may
travel like the apostles, be beneficial in various places, and
circulate for the universal service of mankind."
The inquisitors were astonished at this treatment, which they
never expected to receive, even from crowned heads; they therefore
determined to deliver their precious images in a solemn procession,
that they might excite the people to an insurrection. The Dominican
friars were accordingly ordered to march to de Legal's house,
with the silver apostles and saints, in a mournful manner, having
lighted tapers with them and bitterly crying all the way, "heresy,
M. de Legal, hearing these proceedings, ordered four companies
of grenadiers to line the street which led to his house; each
grenadier was ordered to have his loaded fuzee in one hand, and
a lighted taper in the other; so that the troops might either
repel force with force, or do honor to the farcical solemnity.
The friars did all they could to raise the tumult, but the common
people were too much afraid of the troops under arms to obey them;
the silver images were, therefore, of necessity delivered up to
M. de Legal, who sent them to the mint, and ordered them to be
The project of raising an insurrection having failed, the inquisitors
determined to excommunicate M. de Legal, unless he would release
their precious silver saints from imprisonment in the mint, before
they were melted down, or otherwise mutilated. The French commander
absolutely refused to release the images, but said they should
certainly travel and do good; upon which the inquisitors drew
up the form of excommunication, and ordered their secretary to
go and read it to M. de Legal.
The secretary punctually performed his commission, and read the
excommunication deliberately and distinctly. The French commander
heard it with great patience, and politely told the secretary
that he would answer it the next day.
When the secretary of the Inquisition was gone, M. de Legal ordered
his own secretary to prepare a form of excommunication, exactly
like that sent by the Inquisition; but to make this alteration,
instead of his name to put in those of the inquisitors.
The next morning he ordered four regiments under arms, and commanded
them to accompany his secretary, and act as he directed.
The secretary went to the Inquisition, and insisted upon admittance,
which, after a great deal of altercation, was granted. As soon
as he entered, he read, in an audible voice, the excommunication
sent by M. de Legal against the inquisitors. The inquisitors were
all present, and heard it with astonishment, never having before
met with any individual who dared to behave so boldly. They loudly
cried out against de Legal, as a heretic; and said, "This
was a most daring insult against the Catholic faith." But
to surprise them still more, the French secretary told them that
they must remove from their present lodgings; for the French commander
wanted to quarter the troops in the Inquisition, as it was the
most commodious place in the whole city.
The inquisitors exclaimed loudly upon this occasion, when the
secretary put them under a strong guard, and sent them to a place
appointed by M. de Legal to receive them. The inquisitors, finding
how things went, begged that they might be permitted to take their
private property, which was granted; and they immediately set
out for Madrid, where they made the most bitter complaints to
the king; but the monarch told them that he could not grant them
any redress, as the injuries they had received were from his grandfather,
the king of France's troops, by whose assistance alone he could
be firmly established in his kingdom. "Had it been my own
troops, [said he] I would have punished them; but as it is, I
cannot pretend to exert any authority."
In the mean time, M. de Legal's secretary set open all the doors
of the Inquisition, and released the prisoners, who amounted in
the whole to four hundred; and among these were sixty beautiful
young women, who appeared to form a seraglio for the three principal
This discovery, which laid the enormity of the inquisitors so
open, greatly alarmed the archbishop, who desired M. de Legal
to send the women to his palace, and he would take proper care
of them; and at the same time he published an ecclesiastical censure
against all such as should ridicule, or blame, the holy office
of the Inquisition.
The French commander sent word to the archbishop, that the prisoners
had either run away, or were so securely concealed by their friends,
or even by his own officers, that it was impossible for him to
send them back again; and, therefore, the Inquisition having committed
such atrocious actions, must now put up with their exposure.
Some may suggest, that it is strange crowned heads and eminent
nobles did not attempt to crush the power of the Inquisition,
and reduce the authority of those ecclesiastical tyrants, from
whose merciless fangs neither their families nor themselves were
But astonishing as it is, superstition hath, in this case, always
overcome common sense, and custom operated against reason. One
prince, indeed, intended to abolish the Inquisition, but he lost
his life before he became king, and consequently before he had
the power so to do; for the very intimation of his design procured
This was that amiable prince Don Carlos, son of Philip the Second,
king of Spain, and grandson of the celebrated emperor Charles
V. Don Carlos possessed all the good qualities of his grandfather,
without any of the bad ones of his father; and was a prince of
great vivacity, admirable learning, and the most amiable disposition.
He had sense enough to see into the errors of popery, and abhorred
the very name of the Inquisition. He inveighed publicly against
the institution, ridiculed the affected piety of the inquisitors,
did all he could to expose their atrocious deeds, and even declared,
that if he ever came to the crown, he would abolish the Inquisition,
and exterminate its agents.
These things were sufficient to irritate the inquisitors against
the prince: they, accordingly, bent their minds to vengeance,
and determined on his destruction.
The inquisitors now employed all their agents and emissaries to
spread abroad the most artful insinuations against the prince;
and, at length raised such a spirit of discontent among the people
that the king was under the necessity of removing Don Carlos from
court. Not content with this, they pursued even his friends, and
obliged the king likewise to banish Don John, duke of Austria,
his own brother, and consequently uncle to the prince; together
with the prince of Parma, nephew to the king, and cousin to the
prince, because they well knew that both the duke of Austria,
and the prince of Parma, had a most sincere and inviolable attachment
to Don Carlos.
Some few years after, the prince having shown great lenity and
favor to the Protestants in the Netherlands, the Inquisition loudly
exclaimed against him, declaring, that as the persons in question
were heretics, the prince himself must necessarily be one, since
he gave them countenance. In short, they gained so great an ascendency
over the mind of the king, who was absolutely a slave to superstition,
that, shocking to relate, he sacrificed the feelings of nature
to the force of bigotry, and, for fear of incurring the anger
of the Inquisition, gave up his only son, passing the sentence
of death on him himself.
The prince, indeed, had what was termed an indulgence; that is,
he was permitted to choose the manner of his death. Roman-like,
the unfortunate young hero chose bleeding and the hot bath; when
the veins of his arms and legs were opened, he expired gradually,
falling a martyr to the malice of the inquisitors, and the stupid
bigotry of his father.
The Persecution of Dr. Aegidio
Dr. Aegidio was educated at the university of Alcala, where he
took his several degrees, and particularly applied himself to
the study of the sacred Scriptures and school divinity. When the
professor of theology died, he was elected into his place, and
acted so much to the satisfaction of every one that his reputation
for learning and piety was circulated throughout Europe.
Aegidio, however, had his enemies, and these laid a complaint
against him to the inquisitors, who sent him a citation, and when
he appeared to it, cast him into a dungeon.
As the greatest part of those who belonged to the cathedral church
at Seville, and many persons belonging to the bishopric of Dortois
highly approved of the doctrines of Aegidio, which they thought
perfectly consonant with true religion, they petitioned the emperor
in his behalf. Though the monarch had been educated a Roman Catholic,
he had too much sense to be a bigot, and therefore sent an immediate
order for his enlargement.
He soon after visited the church of Valladolid, and did every
thing he could to promote the cause of religion. Returning home
he soon after fell sick, and died in an extreme old age.
The inquisitors having been disappointed of gratifying their malice
against him while living, determined (as the emperor's whole thoughts
were engrossed by a military expedition) to wreak their vengeance
on him when dead. Therefore, soon after he was buried, they ordered
his remains to be dug out of the grave; and a legal process being
carried on, they were condemned to be burnt, which was executed
The Persecution of Dr. Constantine
Dr. Constantine, an intimate acquaintance of the already mentioned
Dr. Aegidio, was a man of uncommon natural abilities and profound
learning; exclusive of several modern tongues, he was acquainted
with the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages, and perfectly well
knew not only the sciences called abstruse, but those arts which
come under the denomination of polite literature.
His eloquence rendered him pleasing, and the soundness of his
doctrines a profitable preacher; and he was so popular that he
never preached but to a crowded audience. He had many opportunities
of rising in the Church, but never would take advantage of them;
for if a living of greater value than his own was offered him,
he would refuse it, saying, "I am content with what I have";
and he frequently preached so forcibly against simony, that many
of his superiors, who were not so delicate upon the subject, took
umbrage at his doctrines upon that head.
Having been fully confirmed in Protestantism by Dr. Aegidio, he
preached boldly such doctrines only as were agreeable to Gospel
purity, and uncontaminated by the errors which had at various
times crept into the Romish Church. For these reasons he had many
enemies among the Roman Catholics, and some of them were fully
determined on his destruction.
A worthy gentleman named Scobaria, having erected a school for
divinity lectures, appointed Dr. Constantine to be reader therein.
He immediately undertook the task, and read lectures, by portions,
on the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles; and was beginning
to expound the Book of Job, when he was seized by the inquisitors.
Being brought to examination, he answered with such precaution
that they could not find any explicit charge against him, but
remained doubtful in what manner to proceed, when the following
circumstances occurred to determine them.
Dr. Constantine had deposited with a woman named Isabella Martin,
several books, which to him were very valuable, but which he knew,
in the eyes of the Inquisition, were exceptionable.
This woman having been informed against as a Protestant, was apprehended,
and, after a small process, her goods were ordered to be confiscated.
Previous, however, to the officers coming to her house, the woman's
son had removed away several chests full of the most valuable
articles; among these were Dr. Constantine's books.
A treacherous servant gave intelligence of this to the inquisitors,
and an officer was despatched to the son to demand the chests.
The son, supposing the officer only came for Constantine's books,
said, "I know what you come for, and I will fetch them to
you immediately." He then fetched Dr. Constantine's books
and papers, when the officer was greatly surprised to find what
he did not look for. He, however, told the young man that he was
glad these books and papers were produced, but nevertheless he
must fulfill the end of his commission, which was to carry him
and the goods he had embezzled before the inquisitors, which he
did accordingly; for the young man knew it would be in vain to
expostulate, or resist, and therefore quietly submitted to his
The inquisitors being thus possessed of Constantine's books and
writings, now found matter sufficient to form charges against
him. When he was brought to a re-examination, they presented one
of his papers, and asked him if he knew the handwriting? Perceiving
it was his own, he guessed the whole matter, confessed the writing,
and justified the doctrine it contained: saying, "In that,
and all my other writings, I have never departed from the truth
of the Gospel, but have always kept in view the pure precepts
of Christ, as He delivered them to mankind."
After being detained upwards of two years in prison, Dr. Constantine
was seized with a bloody flux, which put an end to his miseries
in this world. The process, however, was carried on against his
body, which, at the ensuing auto da fe, was publicly burnt.
The Life of William Gardiner
William Gardiner was born at Bristol, received a tolerable education,
and was, at a proper age, placed under the care of a merchant,
At the age of twenty-six years, he was, by his master, sent to
Lisbon to act as factor. Here he applied himself to the study
of the Portuguese language, executed his business with assiduity
and despatch, and behaved with the most engaging affability to
all persons with whom he had the least concern. He conversed privately
with a few, whom he knew to be zealous Protestants; and, at the
same time cautiously avoided giving the least offence to any who
were Roman Catholics; he had not, however, hitherto gone into
any of the popish churches.
A marriage being concluded between the king of Portugal's son,
and the Infanta of Spain, upon the wedding-day the bridegroom,
bride, and the whole court went to the cathedral church, attended
by multitudes of all ranks of people, and among the rest William
Gardiner, who stayed during the whole ceremony, and was greatly
shocked at the superstitions he saw.
The erroneous worship which he had seen ran strongly in his mind;
he was miserable to see a whole country sunk into such idolatry,
when the truth of the Gospel might be so easily obtained. He,
therefore, took the inconsiderate, though laudable design, into
his head, of making a reform in Portugal, or perishing in the
attempt; and determined to sacrifice his prudence to his zeal,
though he became a martyr upon the occasion.
To this end, he settled all his worldly affairs, paid his debts,
closed his books, and consigned over his merchandise. On the ensuing
Sunday he went again to the cathedral church, with a New Testament
in his hand, and placed himself near the altar.
The king and the court soon appeared, and a cardinal began Mass,
at that part of the ceremony in which the people adore the wafer.
Gardiner could hold out no longer, but springing towards the cardinal,
he snatched the host from him, and trampled it under his feet.
This action amazed the whole congregation, and one person, drawing
a dagger, wounded Gardiner in the shoulder, and would, by repeating
the blow, have finished him, had not the king called to him to
Gardiner, being carried before the king, the monarch asked him
what countryman he was: to which he replied, "I am an Englishman
by birth, a Protestant by religion, and a merchant by occupation.
What I have done is not out of contempt to your royal person,
God forbid it should, but out of an honest indignation, to see
the ridiculous superstitious and gross idolatries practiced here."
The king, thinking that he had been stimulated by some other person
to act as he had done, demanded who was his abetter, to which
he replied, "My own conscience alone. I would not hazard
what I have done for any man living, but I owe that and all other
services to God."
Gardiner was sent to prison, and a general order issued to apprehend
all Englishmen in Lisbon. This order was in a great measure put
into execution, (some few escaping) and many innocent persons
were tortured to make them confess if they knew any thing of the
matter; in particular, a person who resided in the same house
with Gardiner was treated with unparalleled barbarity to make
him confess something which might throw a light upon the affair.
Gardiner himself was then tormented in the most excruciating manner;
but in the midst of all his torments he gloried in the deed. Being
ordered for death, a large fire was kindled near a gibbet, Gardiner
was drawn up to the gibbet by pulleys, and then let down near
the fire, but not so close as to touch it; for they burnt or rather
roasted him by slow degrees. Yet he bore his sufferings patiently
and resigned his soul to the Lord cheerfully.
It is observable that some of the sparks that were blown from
the fire, (which consumed Gardiner) towards the haven, burnt one
of the king's ships of war, and did other considerable damage.
The Englishmen who were taken up on this occasion were, soon after
Gardiner's death, all discharged, except the person who resided
in the same house with him, who was detained two years before
he could procure his liberty.
An Account of the Life and Sufferings of Mr. William Lithgow,
a Native of Scotland
This gentleman was descended from a good family, and having a
natural propensity for travelling, he rambled, when very young,
over the northern and western islands; after which he visited
France, Germany, Switzerland, and Spain. He set out on his travels
in the month of March, 1609, and the first place he went to was
Paris, where he stayed for some time. He then prosecuted his travels
through Germany and other parts, and at length arrived at Malaga,
in Spain, the seat of all his misfortunes.
During his residence here, he contracted with the master of a
French ship for his passage to Alexandria, but was prevented from
going by the following circumstances. In the evening of the seventeenth
of October, 1620, the English fleet, at that time on a cruise
against the Algerine rovers, came to anchor before Malaga, which
threw the people of the town into the greatest consternation,
as they imagined them to be Turks. The morning, however, discovered
the mistake, and the governor of Malaga, perceiving the cross
of England in their colors, went on board Sir Robert Mansel's
ship, who commanded on that expedition, and after staying some
time returned, and silenced the fears of the people.
The next day many persons from on board the fleet came ashore.
Among these were several well known by Mr. Lithgow, who, after
reciprocal compliments, spent some days together in festivity
and the amusements of the town. They then invited Mr. Lithgow
to go on board, and pay his respects to the admiral. He accordingly
accepted the invitation, was kindly received by him, and detained
till the next day when the fleet sailed. The admiral would willingly
have taken Mr. Lithgow with him to Algiers; but having contracted
for his passage to Alexandria, and his baggage, etc., being in
the town, he could not accept the offer.
As soon as Mr. Lithgow got on shore, he proceeded towards his
lodgings by a private way, (being to embark the same night for
Alexandria) when, in passing through a narrow uninhabited street,
he found himself suddenly surrounded by nine sergeants, or officers,
who threw a black cloak over him, and forcibly conducted him to
the governor's house. After some little time the governor appeared
when Mr. Lithgow earnestly begged he might be informed of the
cause of such violent treatment. The governor only answered by
shaking his head, and gave orders that the prisoner should be
strictly watched until he (the governor) returned from his devotions;
directing, at the same time, that the captain of the town, the
alcade major, and town notary, should be summoned to appear at
his examination, and that all this should be done with the greatest
secrecy, to prevent the knowledge reaching the ears of the English
merchants then residing in the town.
These orders were strictly discharged, and on the governor's return,
he, with the officers, having seated themselves, Mr. Lithgow was
brought before them for examination. The governor began by asking
several questions, namely, of what country he was, whither bound,
and how long he had been in Spain. The prisoner, after answering
these and other questions, was conducted to a closet, where, in
a short space of time, he was visited by the town captain, who
inquired whether he had ever been at Seville, or was lately come
from thence; and patting his cheeks with an air of friendship,
conjured him to tell the truth, "For (said he) your very
countenance shows there is some hidden matter in your mind, which
prudence should direct you to disclose." Finding himself,
however, unable to extort any thing from the prisoner, he left
him, and reported the same to the governor and the other officers;
on which Mr. Lithgow was again brought before them, a general
accusation was laid against him, and he was compelled to swear
that he would give true answers to such questions as should be
The governor proceeded to inquire the quality of the English commander,
and the prisoner's opinion what were the motives that prevented
his accepting an invitation from him to come on shore. He demanded,
likewise, the names of the English captains in the squadron, and
what knowledge he had of the embarkation, or preparation for it
before his departure from England. The answers given to the several
questions asked were set down in writing by the notary; but the
junto seemed surprised at his denying any knowledge of the fitting
out of the fleet, particularly the governor, who said he lied;
that he was a traitor and a spy, and came directly from England
to favor and assist the designs that were projected against Spain,
and that he had been for that purpose nine months in Seville,
in order to procure intelligence of the time the Spanish navy
was expected from the Indies. They exclaimed against his familiarity
with the officers of the fleet, and many other English gentlemen,
between whom, they said, unusual civilities had passed, but all
these transactions had been carefully noticed.
Besides to sum up the whole, and put the truth past all doubt,
they said he came from a council of war, held that morning on
board the admiral's ship, in order to put in execution the orders
assigned him. They upbraided him with being accessory to the burning
of the island of St. Thomas, in the West Indies. "Wherefore
(said they) these Lutherans, and sons of the devil, ought to have
no credit given to what they say or swear."
In vain did Mr. Lithgow endeavor to obviate every accusation laid
against him, and to obtain belief from his prejudiced judges.
He begged permission to send for his cloak bag which contained
his papers, and might serve to show his innocence. This request
they complied with, thinking it would discover some things of
which they were ignorant. The cloak bag was accordingly brought,
and being opened, among other things, was found a license from
King James the First, under the sign manual, setting forth the
bearer's intention to travel into Egypt; which was treated by
the haughty Spaniards with great contempt. The other papers consisted
of passports, testimonials, etc., of persons of quality. All
these credentials, however, seemed rather to confirm than abate
the suspicions of these prejudiced judges, who, after seizing
all the prisoner's papers, ordered him again to withdraw.
In the meantime a consultation was held to fix the place where
the prisoner should be confined. The alcade, or chief judge, was
for putting him into the town prison; but this was objected to,
particularly by the corregidor, who said, in Spanish, "In
order to prevent the knowledge of his confinement from reaching
his countrymen, I will take the matter on myself, and be answerable
for the consequences"; upon which it was agreed that he should
be confined in the governor's house with the greatest secrecy.
This matter being determined, one of the sergeants went to Mr.
Lithgow, and begged his money, with liberty to search him. As
it was needless to make any resistance, the prisoner quietly complied,
when the sergeant (after rifling his pockets of eleven ducatoons)
stripped him to his shirt; and searching his breeches he found,
inclosed in the waistland, two canvass bags, containing one hundred
and thirty-seven pieces of gold. The sergeant immediately took
the money to the corregidor, who, after having told it over, ordered
him to clothe the prisoner, and shut him up close until after
About midnight, the sergeant and two Turkish slaves released Mr.
Lithgow from his then confinement, but it was to introduce him
to one much more horrible. They conducted him through several
passages, to a chamber in a remote part of the palace, towards
the garden, where they loaded him with irons, and extended his
legs by means of an iron bar above a yard long, the weight of
which was so great that he could neither stand nor sit, but was
obliged to lie continually on his back. They left him in this
condition for some time, when they returned with a refreshment
of food, consisting of a pound of boiled mutton and a loaf, together
with a small quantity of wine; which was not only the first, but
the best and last of the kind, during his confinement in this
place. After delivering these articles, the sergeant locked the
door, and left Mr. Lithgow to his own private contemplations.
The next day he received a visit from the governor, who promised
him his liberty, with many other advantages, if he would confess
being a spy; but on his protesting that he was entirely innocent,
the governor left him in a rage, saying, 'He should see him no
more until further torments constrained him to confess'; commanding
the keeper, to whose care he was committed, that he should permit
no person whatever to have access to, or commune with him; that
his sustenance should not exceed three ounces of musty bread,
and a pint of water every second day; that he shall be allowed
neither bed, pillow, nor coverlid. "Close up (said he) this
window in his room with lime and stone, stop up the holes of the
door with double mats: let him have nothing that bears any likeness
to comfort." These, and several orders of the like severity,
were given to render it impossible for his condition to be known
to those of the English nation.
In this wretched and melancholy state did poor Lithgow continue
without seeing any person for several days, in which time the
governor received an answer to a letter he had written, relative
to the prisoner, from Madrid; and, pursuant to the instructions
given him, began to put in practice the cruelties devised, which
were hastened, because Christmas holy-days approached, it being
then the forty-seventh day since his imprisonment.
About two o'clock in the morning, he heard the noise of a coach
in the street, and sometime after heard the opening of the prison
doors, not having had any sleep for two nights; hunger, pain,
and melancholy reflections having prevented him from taking any
Soon after the prison doors were opened, the nine sergeants, who
had first seized him, entered the place where he lay, and without
uttering a word, conducted him in his irons through the house
into the street, where a coach waited, and into which they laid
him at the bottom on his back, not being able to sit. Two of the
sergeants rode with him, and the rest walked by the coach side,
but all observed the most profound silence. They drove him to
a vinepress house, about a league from the town, to which place
a rack had been privately conveyed before; and here they shut
him up for that night.
At daybreak the next morning, arrived the governor and the alcade,
into whose presence Mr. Lithgow was immediately brought to undergo
another examination. The prisoner desired he might have an interpreter,
which was allowed to strangers by the laws of that country, but
this was refused, nor would they permit him to appeal to Madrid,
the superior court of judicature. After a long examination, which
lasted from morning until night, there appeared in all his answers
so exact a conformity with what he had before said, that they
declared he had learned them by heart, there not being the least
prevarication. They, however, pressed him again to make a full
discovery; that is, to accuse himself of crimes never committed,
the governor adding, "You are still in my power; I can set
you free if you comply, if not, I must deliver you to the alcade."
Mr. Lithgow still persisting in his innocence, the governor ordered
the notary to draw up a warrant for delivering him to the alcade
to be tortured.
In consequence of this he was conducted by the sergeants to the
end of a stone gallery, where the rack was placed. The encarouador,
or executioner, immediately struck off his irons, which put him
to very great pains, the bolts being so closely riveted that the
sledge hammer tore away half an inch of his heel, in forcing off
the bolt; the anguish of which, together with his weak condition,
(not having the least sustenance for three days) occasioned him
to groan bitterly; upon which the merciless alcade said, "Villain,
traitor, this is but the earnest of what you shall endure."
When his irons were off, he fell on his knees, uttering a short
prayer, that God would be pleased to enable him to be steadfast,
and undergo courageously the grievous trial he had to encounter.
The alcade and notary having placed themselves in chairs, he was
stripped naked, and fixed upon the rack, the office of these gentlemen
being to be witness of, and set down the confessions and tortures
endured by the delinquent.
It is impossible to describe all the various tortures inflicted
Suffice it to say that he lay on the rack for above five hours,
during which time he received above sixty different tortures of
the most hellish nature; and had they continued them a few minutes
longer, he must have inevitably perished.
These cruel persecutors being satisfied for the present, the prisoner
was taken from the rack, and his irons being again put on, he
was conducted to his former dungeon, having received no other
nourishment than a little warm wine, which was given him rather
to prevent his dying, and reserve him for future punishments,
than from any principle of charity or compassion.
As a confirmation of this, orders were given for a coach to pass
every morning before day by the prison, that the noise made by
it might give fresh terrors and alarms to the unhappy prisoner,
and deprive him of all possibility of obtaining the least repose.
He continued in this horrid situation, almost starved for want
of the common necessaries to preserve his wretched existence,
until Christmas day, when he received some relief from Mariane,
waiting-woman to the governor's lady. This woman having obtained
leave to visit him, carried with her some refreshments, consisting
of honey, sugar, raisins, and other articles; and so affected
was she at beholding his situation that she wept bitterly, and
at her departure expressed the greatest concern at not being able
to give him further assistance.
In this loathsome prison was poor Mr. Lithgow kept until he was
almost devoured by vermin. They crawled about his beard, lips,
eyebrows, etc., so that he could scarce open his eyes; and his
mortification was increased by not having the use of his hands
or legs to defend himself, from his being so miserably maimed
by the tortures. So cruel was the governor, that he even ordered
the vermin to be swept on him twice in every eight days. He, however,
obtained some little mitigation of this part of his punishment,
from the humanity of a Turkish slave that attended him, who, when
he could do it with safety, destroyed the vermin, and contributed
every refreshment to him that laid in his power.
From this slave Mr. Lithgow at length received information which
gave him little hopes of ever being released, but, on the contrary,
that he should finish his life under new tortures. The substance
of this information was that an English seminary priest, and a
Scotch cooper, had been for some time employed by the governor
to translate from the English into the Spanish language, all his
books and observations; and that it was commonly said in the governor's
house, that he was an arch-heretic.
This information greatly alarmed him, and he began, not without
reason, to fear that they would soon finish him, more especially
as they could neither by torture or any other means, bring him
to vary from what he had all along said at his different examinations.
Two days after he had received the above information, the governor,
an inquisitor, and a canonical priest, accompanied by two Jesuits,
entered his dungeon, and being seated, after several idle questions,
the inquisitor asked Mr. Lithgow if he was a Roman Catholic, and
acknowledged the pope's supremacy? He answered that he neither
was the one nor did the other, adding that he was surprised at
being asked such questions, since it was expressly stipulated
by the articles of peace between England and Spain that none of
the English subjects should be liable to the Inquisition, or any
way molested by them on account of diversity in religion, etc.
In the bitterness of his soul he made use of some warm expressions
not suited to his circumstances: "As you have almost murdered
me (said he) for pretended treason, so now you intend to make
a martyr of me for my religion." He also expostulated with
the governor on the ill return he made to the king of England,
(whose subject he was) for the princely humanity exercised towards
the Spaniards in 1588, when their armada was shipwrecked on the
Scotch coast, and thousands of the Spaniards found relief, who
must otherwise have miserably perished.
The governor admitted the truth of what Mr. Lithgow said, but
replied with a haughty air that the king, who then only ruled
Scotland, was actuated more by fear than love, and therefore did
not deserve any thanks. One of the Jesuits said there was no faith
to be kept with heretics. The inquisitor then rising, addressed
himself to Mr. Lithgow in the following words: "You have
been taken up as a spy, accused of treachery, and tortured, as
we acknowledge, innocently:
(which appears by the account lately received from Madrid of the
intentions of the English) yet it was the divine power that brought
those judgments upon you, for presumptuously treating the blessed
miracle of Loretto with ridicule, and expressing yourself in your
writings irreverently of his holiness, the great agent and Christ's
vicar upon earth; therefore you are justly fallen into our hands
by their special appointment: thy books and papers are miraculously
translated by the assistance of Providence influencing thy own
This trumpery being ended, they gave the prisoner eight days to
consider and resolve whether he would become a convert to their
religion; during which time the inquisitor told him he, with other
religious orders, would attend, to give him such assistance thereto
as he might want. One of the Jesuits said, (first making the sign
of the cross upon his breast), "My son, behold, you deserve
to be burnt alive; but by the grace of our lady of Loretto, whom
you have blasphemed we will both save your soul and body."
In the morning the inquisitor, with three other ecclesiastics,
returned, when the former asked the prisoner what difficulties
he had on his conscience that retarded his conversion; to which
he answered, 'he had not any doubts in his mind, being confident
in the promises of Christ, and assuredly believing his revealed
will signified in the Gospels, as professed in the reformed Catholic
Church, being confirmed by grace, and having infallible assurance
thereby of the Christian faith.' To these words the inquisitor
replied, "Thou art no Christian, but an absurd heretic, and
without conversion a member of perdition." The prisoner then
told him that it was not consistent with the nature and essence
of religion and charity to convince by opprobrious speeches, racks,
and torments, but by arguments deduced from the Scriptures; and
that all other methods would with him be totally ineffectual.
The inquisitor was so enraged at the replies made by the prisoner,
that he struck him on the face, used many abusive speeches, and
attempted to stab him, which he had certainly done had he not
been prevented by the Jesuits; and from this time he never again
visited the prisoner.
The next day the two Jesuits returned, and putting on a very grave,
supercilious air, the superior asked him what resolution he had
taken. To which Mr. Lithgow replied that he was already resolved,
unless he could show substantial reasons to make him alter his
opinion. The superior, after a pedantic display of their seven
sacraments, the intercession of saints, transubstantiation, etc.,
boasted greatly of their Church, her antiquity, universality,
and uniformity; all of which Mr. Lithgow denied: "For (said
he) the profession of the faith I hold hath been ever since the
first days of the apostles, and Christ had ever his own Church
(however obscure) in the greatest time of your darkness."
The Jesuits, finding their arguments had not the desired effect,
that torments could not shake his constancy, nor even the fear
of the cruel sentence he had reason to expect would be pronounced
and executed on him, after severe menaces, left him. On the eighth
day after, being the last of their Inquisition, when sentence
is pronounced, they returned again, but quite altered both in
their words and behavior after repeating much of the same kind
of arguments as before, they with seeming tears in their eyes,
pretended they were sorry from their heart he must be obliged
to undergo a terrible death, but above all, for the loss of his
most precious soul; and falling on their knees, cried out, "Convert,
convert, O dear brother, for our blessed Lady's sake convert!"
To which he answered, "I fear neither death nor fire, being
prepared for both."
The first effects Mr. Lithgow felt of the determination of this
bloody tribunal was, a sentence to receive that night eleven different
tortures, and if he did not die in the execution of them, (which
might be reasonably expected from the maimed and disjointed condition
he was in) he was, after Easter holy-days, to be carried to Grenada,
and there burnt to ashes. The first part of this sentence was
executed with great barbarity that night; and it pleased God to
give him strength both of body and mind, to stand fast to the
truth, and to survive the horrid punishments inflicted on him.
After these barbarians had glutted themselves for the present,
with exercising on the unhappy prisoner the most distinguished
cruelties, they again put irons on, and conveyed him to his former
dungeon. The next morning he received some little comfort from
the Turkish slave before mentioned, who secretly brought him,
in his shirt sleeve, some raisins and figs, which he licked up
in the best manner his strength would permit with his tongue.
It was to this slave Mr. Lithgow attributed his surviving so long
in such a wretched situation; for he found means to convey some
of these fruits to him twice every week. It is very extraordinary,
and worthy of note, that this poor slave, bred up from his infancy,
according to the maxims of his prophet and parents, in the greatest
detestation of Christians, should be so affected at the miserable
situation of Mr. Lithgow that he fell ill, and continued so for
upwards of forty days. During this period Mr. Lithgow was attended
by a negro woman, a slave, who found means to furnish him with
refreshments still more amply than the Turk, being conversant
in the house and family. She brought him every day some victuals,
and with it some wine in a bottle.
The time was now so far elapsed, and the horrid situation so truly
loathsome, that Mr. Lithgow waited with anxious expectation for
the day, which, by putting an end to his life, would also end
his torments. But his melancholy expectations were, by the interposition
of Providence, happily rendered abortive, and his deliverance
obtained from the following circumstances.
It happened that a Spanish gentleman of quality came from Grenada
to Malaga, who being invited to an entertainment by the governor,
informed him of what had befallen Mr. Lithgow from the time of
his being apprehended as a spy, and described the various sufferings
he had endured. He likewise told him that after it was known the
prisoner was innocent, it gave him great concern. That on this
account he would gladly have released him, restored his money
and papers, and made some atonement for the injuries he had received,
but that, upon an inspection into his writings, several were found
of a very blasphemous nature, highly reflecting on their religion,
that on his refusing to abjure these heretical opinions, he was
turned over to the Inquisition, by whom he was finally condemned.
While the governor was relating this tragical tale, a Flemish
youth (servant to the Spanish gentleman) who waited at the table,
was struck with amazement and pity at the sufferings of the stranger
described. On his return to his master's lodgings he began to
revolve in his mind what he had heard, which made such an impression
on him that he could not rest in his bed. In the short slumbers
he had, his imagination pointed to him the person described, on
the rack, and burning in the fire. In this anxiety he passed the
night; and when the morning came, without disclosing his intentions
to any person whatever, he went into the town, and inquired for
an English factor. He was directed to the house of a Mr. Wild,
to whom he related the whole of what he had heard pass the preceding
evening, between his master and the governor, but could not tell
Mr. Lithgow's name. Mr. Wild, however, conjectured it was he,
by the servant's remembering the circumstance of his being a traveller,
and his having had some acquaintance with him.
On the departure of the Flemish servant, Mr. Wild immeidately
sent for the other English factors, to whom he related all the
paritculars relative to their unfortunate countryman. After a
short consultation it was agreed that an information of the whole
affair should be sent, by express, to Sir Walter Aston, the English
ambassador to the king of Spain, then at Madrid. This was accordingly
done, and the ambassador having presented a memorial to the king
and council of Spain, obtained an order for Mr. Lithgow's enlargement,
and his delivery to the English factor. This order was directed
to the governor of Malaga; and was received with great dislike
and surprise by the whole assembly of the bloody Inquisition.
Mr. Lithgow was released from his confinement on the eve of Easter
Sunday, when he was carried from his dungeon on the back of the
slave who had attended him, to the house of one Mr. Bosbich, where
all proper comforts were given him. It fortunately happened that
there was at this time a squadron of English ships in the road,
commanded by Sir Richard Hawkins, who being informed of the past
sufferings and present situation of Mr. Lithgow, came the next
day ashore, with a proper guard, and received him from the merchants.
He was instantly carried in blankets on board the Vanguard, and
three days after was removed to another ship, by direction of
the general Sir Robert Mansel, who ordered that he should have
proper care taken of him. The factor presented him with clothes,
and all necessary provisions, besides which they gave him two
hundred reals in silver; and Sir Richard Hawkins sent him two
Before his departure from the Spanish coast, Sir Richard Hawkins
demanded the delivery of his papers, money, books, etc., but could
not obtain any satisfactory answer on that head.
We cannot help making a pause here to reflect how manifestly Providence
interfered in behalf of this poor man, when he was just on the
brink of destruction; for by his sentence, from which there was
no appeal, he would have been taken, in a few days, to Grenada,
and burnt to ashes; and that a poor ordinary servant, who had
not the least knowledge of him, nor was any ways interested in
his preservation, should risk the displeasure of his master, and
hazard his own life, to disclose a thing of so momentous and perilous
a nature, to a strange gentleman, on whose secrecy depended his
own existence. By such secondary means does Providence frequently
interfere in behalf of the virtuous and oppressed; of which this
is a most distinguished example.
After lying twelve days in the road, the ship weighed anchor,
and in about two months arrived safe at Deptford. The next morning,
Mr. Lithgow was carried on a feather bed to Theobalds, in Hertfordshire,
where at that time was the king and royal family. His majesty
happened to be that day engaged in hunting, but on his return
in the evening, Mr. Lithgow was presented to him, and related
the particulars of his sufferings, and his happy delivery. The
king was so affected at the narrative, that he expressed the deepest
concern, and gave orders that he should be sent to Bath, and his
wants properly supplied from his royal munificence. By these means,
under God, after some time, Mr. Lithgow was restored from the
most wretched spectacle, to a great share of health and strength;
but he lost the use of his left arm and several of the smaller
bones were so crushed and broken, as to be ever after rendered
Notwithstanding that every effort was used, Mr. Lithgow could
never obtain any part of his money or effects, although his majesty
and the ministers of state interested themselves in his behalf.
Gondamore, the Spanish ambassador, indeed, promised that all his
effects should be restored, with the addition of 1000 Pounds English
money, as some atonement for the tortures he had undergone, which
last was to be paid him by the governor of Malaga. These engagements,
however, were but mere promises; and although the king was a kind
of guarantee for the well performance of them, the cunning Spaniard
found means to elude the same. He had, indeed, too great a share
of influence in the English council during the time of that pacific
reign, when England suffered herself to be bullied into slavish
compliance by most of the states and kings in Europe.
The Story of Galileo
The most eminent men of science and philosophy of the day did
not escape the watchful eye of this cruel despotism. Galileo,
the chief astronomer and mathematician of his age, was the first
who used the telescope successfully in solving the movements of
the heavenly bodies. He discovered that the sun is the center
of motion around which the earth and various planets revolve.
For making this great discovery Galileo was brought before the
Inquisition, and for a while was in great danger of being put
After a long and bitter review of Galileo's writings, in which
many of his most important discoveries were condemned as errors,
the charge of the inquisitors went on to declare, "That you,
Galileo, have upon account of those things which you have written
and confessed, subjected yourself to a strong suspicion of heresy
in this Holy Office, by believing, and holding to be true, a doctrine
which is false, and contrary to the sacred and divine Scripture-
viz., that the sun is the center of the orb of the earth, and
does not move from the east to the west; and that the earth moves,
and is not the center of the world."
In order to save his life. Galileo admitted that he was wrong
in thinking that the earth revolved around the sun, and swore
that-"For the future, I will never more say, or assert, either
by word or writing, anything that shall give occasion for a like
suspicion." But immediately after taking this forced oath
he is said to have whispered to a friend standing near, "The
earth moves, for all that."
Summary of the Inquisition
Of the multitudes who perished by the Inquisoition throughout
the world, no authentic record is now discoverable. But wherever
popery had power, there was the tribunal. It had been planted
even in the east, and the Portuguese Inquisition of Goa was, until
within these few years, fed with many an agony. South America
was partitioned into provinces of the Inquisition; and with a
ghastly mimickry of the crimes of the mother state, the arrivals
of viceroys, and the other popular celebrations were thought imperfect
without an auto da fe. The Netherlands were one scene of slaughter
from the time of the decree which planted the Inquisition among
them. In Spain the calculation is more attainable. Each of the
seventeen tribunals during a long period burned annually, on an
average, ten miserable beings! We are to recollect that this number
was in a country where persecution had for ages abolished all
religious differences, and where the difficulty was not to find
the stake, but the offering. Yet, even in Spain, thus gleaned
of all heresy, the Inquisition could still swell its lists of
murders to thirty-two thousand! The numbers burned in effigy,
or condemned to penance, punishments generally equivalent to exile,
confiscation, and taint of blood, to all ruin but the mere loss
of worthless life, amounted to three hundred and nine thousand.
But the crowds who perished in dungeons of torture, of confinement,
and of broken hearts, the millions of dependent lives made utterly
helpless, or hurried to the grave by the death of the victims,
are beyond all register; or recorded only before HIM, who has
sworn that "He that leadeth into captivity, shall go into
captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with
Such was the Inquisition, declared by the Spirit of God to be
at once the offspring and the image of the popedom. To feel the
force of the parentage, we must look to the time. In the thirteenth
century, the popedom was at the summit of mortal dominion; it
was independent of all kingdoms; it ruled with a rank of influence
never before or since possessed by a human scepter; it was the
acknowledged sovereign of body and soul; to all earthly intents
its power was immeasurable for good or evil. It might have spread
literature, peace, freedom, and Christianity to the ends of Europe,
or the world. But its nature was hostile; its fuller triumph only
disclosed its fuller evil; and, to the shame of human reason,
and the terror and suffering of human virtue, Rome, in the hour
of its consummate grandeur, teemed with the monstrous and horrid
birth of the INQUISITION!